About The Collection
The Victoria Stowe Collection is a virtual luxury handbag archive representing the only known archival record of American mid-century designer brands.
Visit the Designer Hall to marvel at unique, one-of-a-kind creations handcrafted by top vintage designer labels no longer in operation. Most of the presented handbags are irreplaceable and impossible to find for any money.
Check out the Vogue and Harper's Bazaar period fashion ads to trace their evolution starting from the 19th century. Learn about the incredibly creative period of the 1940s-1960s, when the American handbag industry went avant-guarde under the leadership of the National Authority for the Ladies' Handbag Industry (NALHI).
After World War II, many talented designers and craftsmen had immigrated to the U.S. from Europe in search of creative freedom. It was the time when exotic skin handbags, previously accessible only by the European elites as ultimate status symbols, had been brought mainstream in the U.S.
The American luxury brands of Judith Leiber and Lucille de Paris were selling their handbags at Saks Fifth Avenue right next to the iconic Hermes of France. And, the motto of the 1950s, “More taste than money,” had obviously prevailed. The vibrant mid-century mode had created a new trend in fashion: individuality.
That is exactly what this collection is all about: uniqueness, rarity, individuality, and superb old-world craftsmanship. And, above all, it is about the style that cannot be replicated by today's cookie-cutter, mass-produced fast-fashion.
This authentic collection has been created for savvy fashionistas, who value individuality and exclusivity above the brands that have been so heavily counterfeited.
It is also about the vintage culture that recycles ideas, styles, designs, and objects – go green, go vintage! After spending over a decade working on this collection, which has become the foundation of my published collector's guide and fashion encyclopedia, "Exotic Skin Handbags: Alligator and Crocodile," it is truly my hope that you would find it interesting, relevant, and important.
Ultimately, one day, I would like to see it on display for public viewing at a national museum. One day! But for now, please enjoy browsing our Virtual Museum and visit our luxury boutique, Instyle Classics.